2022 Season Reviews: NFC West


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2022 Season Reviews: NFC West

I wanted to do quick-hitting postmortem reports on every team since I spent so much time this summer breaking down all 32 franchises from a betting perspective for the 2022 season. It’s a good way for me to put a bow on the season that just finished while also getting a leg up on my early research for the 2023 season.

NFC West Reviews

1. San Francisco 49ers

  • Record (ATS): 13-4 (11-6)

  • Season Win Total: Over 10

  • One-possession Record: 3-1 (1-0 postseason)

  • Postseason Record: 2-1 (2-1 ATS)

  • Division Odds: +160

  • Playoff Odds: -225

  • Over/Under record: 9-8

  • PPG: 26.5 (6th)

  • PPG Allowed: 16.3 (1st)

  • Average Scoring Margin: +10.2 (2nd)

  • Turnover Differential: +13 (1st)

Season Review

The 49ers started the season with a major quarterback injury and they ended the season with no healthy quarterbacks remaining on their active roster in the NFC Championship Game. San Francisco lost starter Trey Lance (ankle) in Week 2 before losing backup Jimmy Garoppolo (foot) in Week 13 and third-stringer Brock Purdy (elbow) in the conference title game. San Francisco started the season with a 3-4 record before ripping off 12 straight victories before falling to the Eagles a victory short of the Super Bowl. San Fran’s extended winning streak helped them to top their season win total of 10 and to claim the NFC West (+160 odds) for the first time since 2019 — they swept their division slate for the first time since 1997. San Francisco finished the regular season leading the league in turnover differential (+13), point differential (+173), total defense (300.6 YPG), and scoring defense (16.3 PPG).

The 49ers selected Purdy as Mr. Irrelevant with the last pick of the 2022 draft, and he turned out to be a revelation with multiple TD passes in his first seven NFL games. He also became the first rookie to throw for four touchdowns in a playoff game in their Wild Card victory over the Seahawks. George Kittle quickly struck up a connection with his young QB by securing two TD receptions in three different games in a four-week span. The 49ers acquired Christian McCaffrey from the Panthers for four picks before the trade deadline, and he ended the season with at least one touchdown in his final nine games. Brandon Aiyuk also reached 1000+ receiving yards for the first time in three seasons while Nick Bosa led this elite defense with a league-high 18.5 sacks (+1400 odds).

What to look for this off-season

HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch have built one of the league’s best rosters with double-digit victories in three of the last four seasons, but they’re still trying to find that final piece at quarterback. They moved significant capital to draft Lance to develop into that player but his career is off to a shaky start through two seasons. The good news is that he’ll turn just 23 years old this off-season so there’s still time for him to find his way. Lance and Purdy will likely compete for the starting job in training camp but only if Purdy doesn’t need Tommy John surgery, which would knock him out for the entire 2023 season. Jimmy G’s time with the franchise appeared to be over with his five-year contract expiring, but San Fran could look to keep him or add another veteran QB as Lance insurance if Purdy is out for the year.

The 49ers also have a number of key free agents they’d like to keep in tow like Emmanuel Moseley, Jimmie Ward, Mike McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill, and Azeez Al-Shaair. They do have a favorable cap situation entering the off-season but they traded away their first three draft selections to land Lance and CMC. San Francisco at least has three consecutive compensatory picks coming its way at No. 99-101 to help them upgrade at cornerback and along the interior of the offensive line. San Francisco will also look to lock Bosa up to a long-term extension as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

2. Seattle Seahawks

  • Record (ATS): 9-8 (7-10)
  • Season Win Total: Over 5.5
  • One-possession Record: 4-6
  • Postseason Record: 0-1 (0-1 ATS)
  • Playoff Odds: +600
  • Over/Under record: 8-9
  • PPG: 23.9 (9th)
  • PPG Allowed: 23.6 (25th)
  • Average Scoring Margin: +.4 (12th)
  • Turnover Differential: +2 (t-12th)

Season Review

The Seahawks were an easy punching bag for moving on from Russell Wilson, but GM John Schneider and HC Pete Carroll ended up having the last laughs in one of the biggest fleecings in NFL history. Seattle sent Wilson and a fourth-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, Drew Lock, and five draft picks, which ended up including four picks inside the top 40 in 2022-23. The Seahawks were able to reset the organization with the assets from the trade while also staying competitive with Geno Smith unexpectedly having a later-career renaissance. Seattle reached the postseason at long odds (+600) for the 10th time in 13 seasons under Carroll by easily passing their win total of 5.5. It was the first time the franchise reached the playoffs without Wilson — and Bobby Wagner — since 2010 thanks to their overtime win over the Rams and a Packers loss to the Lions in Week 18.

The Seahawks had a franchise-defining draft similar to the one they had in 2012 when they landed Wilson and Wagner, picking up immediate contributors in LT Charles Cross (1st round), EDGE Boye Mafe (2nd), RB Kenneth Walker (2nd), RT Abraham Lucas (3rd), CB Coby Bryant (4th), and CB Tariq Woolen (5th). Both Walker (228/1050/9 rushing) and Woolen (league-high 6 INTs) finished as finalists for their respective Rookie of the Year honors. Geno was also up for the Comeback Player of the Year Award after resetting many of Wilson’s single-season franchise records for passing yards (4282), completions (399), and completion percentage (69.8%). Tyler Lockett also didn't miss a beat in his first season without Wilson, joining Steve Largent as the only Seattle receivers to reach 1000+ yards in four straight seasons. Even Jason Myers finished with the most kicking points (+10000) for the unexpectedly successful Seahawks.

What to look for this off-season

Seattle is in a great spot heading into 2023 with a roster suddenly teeming with young talent from its excellent 2022 draft. The big decision(s) will come at the quarterback position with the surprisingly in-demand Geno hitting free agency. Seattle could lock up Smith to a multi-year deal or draft a quarterback with the No. 5 overall pick from Denver. They could also do a blend of both approaches by inking Geno to a short-term deal or franchise tagging him while drafting a quarterback at No. 20, 37, or 52 in the first two rounds. The Seahawks have a top-10 cap situation to make Geno a generous offer while also potentially keeping top free agents in the fold like Ryan Neal, Poona Ford, Cody Barton, and Rashaad Penny. Seattle has a wealth of picks to improve its roster this off-season, and its most-pressing need is to beef up its front seven after getting pummeled by RBs in the run game and by tight ends in the passing game.

3. Los Angeles Rams

  • Record (ATS): 5-12 (7-9-1)
  • Season Win Total: Under 10
  • One-possession Record: 3-4
  • Missed Playoff Odds: +200
  • Over/Under record: 6-11
  • PPG: 18.1 (27th)
  • PPG Allowed: 22.6 (t-21st)
  • Average Scoring Margin: -4.5 (28th)
  • Turnover Differential: -1 (t-16th)

Season Review

The Rams experienced the worst Super Bowl hangover in league history. They broke the 1999 Broncos record for the most losses in a season by a defending champion with 12 defeats — Denver went 6-10 in its first season after John Elway retired Los Angeles was the first reigning champs to miss the postseason (+200 odds) since the post-Peyton Manning Broncos did it in 2016, and they were the first to finish with a losing record since the 2003 Buccaneers went 7-9 in their title defense. Sean McVay’s teams previously won 9+ games in his first five seasons with four postseason appearances before last year’s debacle, and they experienced a seven-win decline from their Super Bowl run in 2021.

The franchise’s “f*** them picks” mantra served them well on their way to the Lombardi Trophy in 2021, but their top-heavy roster approach burned them in 2022 when injuries crippled their thin depth chart at a number of key spots. Stars Matthew Stafford (9 games), Cooper Kupp (9), and Aaron Donald (11) combined for just 30 games played after totaling 63 with no missed action in their run to the Lombardi Trophy. The Rams porous offensive line used a different combination of starters in each of their first 12 games. GM Les Snead also took a big swing on Allen Robinson to be the #2 option in the offense, and the Rams got just 33/339/3 receiving in the first season of a three-year, $30.8 million guaranteed contract. Los Angeles was so desperate for help by December that they claimed Baker Mayfield off waivers to start the final five games.

What to look for this off-season

The Rams could use a hard roster reset after last year’s debacle, but Snead and company made the bed they’re currently lying in heading into 2023. Los Angeles has a bottom 10 cap situation even with Stafford set to make just $20 million this season, and they don’t have a first-round selection (No. 6 overall) for the second straight season because of Stafford’s acquisition from Detroit in 2021. McVay and Donald have hinted at retirement since winning Super Bowl LVI but it appears like the Rams will go for at least one last title run with much of their core group still intact. Stafford also plans to return for another season after missing the second half of the year with a spinal cord contusion. They need him to return to full strength while doing a much better job of protecting him. The Rams actually have a pair of picks inside the top 70 to potentially do it after waiting until No. 104 to select Logan Bruss with their first pick last year. The Rams have a couple of key defensive free agents in Taylor Rapp, Troy Hill, and A’Shawn Robinson, but they’ll need to wisely spread their limited resources around to build back the overall depth of this entire roster behind their star players.

4. Arizona Cardinals

  • Record (ATS): 4-13 (8-9)
  • Season Win Total: Under 8.5
  • One-possession Record: 2-6
  • Missed Playoff Odds: -145
  • Over/Under record: 9-8
  • PPG: 20.0 (21st)
  • PPG Allowed: 26.4 (31st)
  • Average Scoring Margin: -6.4 (29th)
  • Turnover Differential: -5 (t-26th)

Season Review

The Cardinals entered last season fresh off handing long-term extensions to GM Steve Keim, HC Kliff Kingsbury, and QB Kyler Murray, which appeared to make them the faces of the franchise for years to come. Owner Michael Bidwill quickly ripped up that plan after a miserable 4-13 campaign, which ended with Keim “resigning”, Kingsbury fired, and Murray recovering from a season-ending ACL injury. The Cardinals suffered a late-season collapse for the third straight year with a seven-game losing streak to miss the postseason (-145 odds). They had a seven-win decline from their postseason run in 2021 and matched a franchise-worst mark in losses with 13, which was previously set in 2000 and 2018.

The Cardinals had high hopes for their offense after signing Zach Ertz to a three-year extension and trading a first-round pick to the Ravens during the draft for Marquise Brown. The season got off on the wrong foot with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games for PED use. Murray would never have his big three receivers on the field at the same time with Hollywood missing five games for a foot injury and Ertz suffering a season-ending ACL injury after racking up 46 catches in his first nine games. Murray then tore his left ACL and meniscus on the third snap of Monday Night Football in Week 14, which ended his year with career-worst marks in YPA (6.1), TD rate (3.6%), and QB rating (87.2). Future first-ballot Hall of Famer J.J. Watt also announced his retirement, ending his career at the top of his game with 12.5 sacks, which included two sacks in his final contest.

What to look for this off-season

Bidwill pegged Monti Ossenfort to head the latest overhaul of the franchise after a three-year run as the director of player personnel with the Titans and a 14-year stay in the Patriots’ scouting department before that. Arizona owns a top-eight pick for the third time in the last five seasons after previously selecting Murray (No. 1 in 2019) and Isaiah Simmons (No. 8 in 2020). They could be in a position to take the best defensive player in Will Anderson or Jalen Carter or they could collect assets if a QB-needy team wants to move up to No. 3 overall. The Cardinals also haven’t been shy about making Hopkins available for trade, and the Patriots and Chiefs are listed as the favorites ahead of the Cardinals to be Nuk’s next team. The Cardinals are already in the top half of the league in cap space before any potential Hopkins trade, and they’ll have decisions to make on free agents like Zach Allen, Byron Murphy, Antonio Hamilton, Kelvin Beachum, and Rodney Hudson. Of course, Murray’s recovery from knee surgery is the most important development for the future of the Cardinals. They could already be eyeing 2024 as their return to postseason contention with reports surfacing that Murray may not be ready until midway through 2023.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 64.3% clip last season and he owned the last undefeated team out of 3000 entries in Scott Fish Bowl 12.